What you need to know
- AT&T CEO John Stankey has revealed that the carrier plans to introduce phone plans subsidized by ads as soon as a year from now.
- The carrier is hoping to sell ads at higher rates by "fine-tuning ad targeting."
- AT&T WarnerMedia is also expected to roll out an ad-supported tier of HBO Max next year.
AT&T is planning to revive the idea of ad-supported phone services. In an interview with Reuters, CEO John Stankey revealed that the carrier is hoping to offer wireless phone plans subsidized by ads "in a year or two."
"I believe there's a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill, " Stankey said.
Ad-supported phone services were first rolled out in the early 2000s by carriers like Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. As noted by Reuters, however, those plans failed to gain traction. AT&T hopes that it will be able to successfully revive the idea with better ad targeting.
AT&T engineers are already working on unified customer identifiers, which will enable marketers to "identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising." However, the carrier is likely to face significant privacy challenges with the technology, as there is now greater awareness among people about how tech giants track their information across platforms.
Stankey believes that the rollout of a new ad-supported tier of the company's HBO Max streaming service in early 2021 will serve as a "foundational element" for new ad inventory, and would be key to ad-supported phone plans.